Outcomes for young people who have been in local authority care are notoriously poor. As a society we must be in no doubt that much, much more can and should be done to enable these young people, many of whom had very bad experiences as children, to have excellent opportunities as adults. The Welsh Government’s strategy recognises that the learning and skills sector has a crucial role to play in this. The point at which a young person leaves school is an opportunity. It’s a chance for providers across the sector – further education institutions, work-based learning providers, higher education institutions, youth, adult and community learning services – to join up, develop integrated and high-quality support and provision that will enable individual care leavers to achieve their potential and break the cycle of disadvantage that they, and their children, often find themselves trapped in.
Poor outcomes aren’t inevitable. We must create a learning and skills system that is joined up, that supports care leavers to overcome the many challenges they face and empowers them to achieve, progress and reach their potential. We need to challenge and overcome the negative stereotypes, insensitivity and lack of compassion shown by some. We need to celebrate the diversity, determination and resilience of care leavers and support them to have high aspirations. A fantastic example of this is Sam Gardner, whose achievements were recently recognised through Learning and Work Institute’s ‘Inspire! Adult Learning Awards 2017’ – in this short film Sam talks candidly about the barriers he faced – “the biggest obstacle for me was having a low expectation of myself and feeling that I wasn’t valuable enough…my voice wasn’t being heard, or wasn’t good enough.”
Sam’s achieving his dreams now, and he’s giving a voice and platform for other children in care and care leavers. At Learning and Work Institute, our ambition is that all care leavers are given opportunities to thrive and succeed. Find out more about our work with care leavers by visiting our website and download our free self-assessment and action planning tool for learning and skills providers.
Visit the Care Leavers Toolkit focus page to find out more.
Written by Nicola Aylward | Head of Learning for Young People | Learning and Work Institute